Larsen's quest for speed record going well in Namibia

Paul Larsen’s SailRocket proved itself a true contender for the world speed sailing record last Monday, April 9 when it reached 38.3 knots with a flat tyre. Check out our video of the week showing amazing footage from the scene by clicking here and choosing the video on the far right, then read Paul’s blog from the team’s base in Namibia:

‘So here we sit in the container downloading data after a monumental day. We went for it today in winds averaging around 18 knots. Plenty of spectators and all cameras rolling. Everything was working. Everything was in place. I could feel the extra load on the knot as I slipped from the restraining anchor. Once into the wind Sailrocket lifted out and the next moments were perhaps the scariest I’ve ever had.
Once again she headed for the beach like a horse to the barn. I knew from our first run that rounding up wasn’t an option so I sheeted on hard and stomped on the rudder to bear away. And I mean stomped. I tried to put it through the bloody bulkhead! I was heading for the beach doing over 30 knots. Something had thumped in the rudder setup and I feared a breakage… somewhere. Everything still felt tight at my end. It was already shallow and I felt that the big crash had already begun. I new that the only way out was left and if I couldn’t get there I would have to go down trying.

‘We weren’t running straight into the beach but we were closing on fast in a boat that I had full lock on just to hold it in a straight line. To her credit she did come around. As soon as I got her straight I gave a quick little ease of pressure on the left C-tech rudder pedal to see if I didn’t have it stalled. Sailrocket then headed for the barn again. There’s alot of spray. I kick myself for nearly parking it in the first instance and then teasing it all again. We are now doing around 37 knots and slowly the bow bears away again. I’m pulling on so much sheet to try and slow this ride down.I have now passed the timing hut at full lock, oversheeted and with the wreckage of the aft planing surface dragging underneath… at 38.3 knots. Over the radio I’m yelling ‘No steerage, no steerage’!

‘I sheet it past centre and the wing stalls hard. We drop off the plane and the ride is over. Personally I was amazed we had survived as at one stage I felt like merely a passenger in a fast crash. I had done all I could do and I just had to hang on and see what was about to unfold. I saw we had hit 38.3 knots and was happy to have gone so much faster than before but also disappointed we hadn’t hit 40. It wasn’t to be a champagne run.

‘Obviously the run had shown us that we still have alot to learn about sailing this type of craft at high speeds. I have no doubt at all that we have the makings of a world record breaker. But first, control… and then speed. The ride was a complete blast. It scared the hell out of me… like all ultimate rides should. And we still have 10 knots to go. Will we survive the development phase?’